Leftists forestall Fox's speech
The battle for Mexico's future escalated even further yesterday, as President Vicente Fox was prevented from giving his annual state of the nation speech to the Mexican congress yesterday. Boisterous delegates from the Party of Democratic Revolution blocked the entrance to the chamber, and Fox finally gave up rather than risk a fistfight by forcing the issue. The shocking demonstration was apparently calculated to catch the Fox government by surprise, because most of the police had been deployed outside in the Zocalo. To their surprise, however, there was no gaterhing of PRD supporters who were rumored to be preparing to assault the legislative chambers. Meanwhile, the PRD delegates inside staged their mini-insurrection, bringing the country's official business to a halt. See Washington Post. Losing presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador seems committed to risk everything in order to get his way, and the way he has been behaving, it seems very unlikely that he would accept any electoral result other than a victory by him. Day by day, he and his party are becoming increasingly discredited in the eyes of the world. Even the Catholic Church, which owes no favors to the political establishment in Mexico, and which is generally on the "progressive" side of social issues, is turning against AMLO. Last week Cardinal Norberto Rivera expressed exasperation with the "crazy" people occupying the streets of Mexico City. It is hard to believe that a country with as much to proud of as Mexico could let itself teeter on the brink of anarchy just because an election was so close.
The coincidental arrival of Hurricane John on Mexico's Pacific coast served as an apt reminder of the high state of nerves and potential for mass-scale violence if this confrontation is not resolved soon.
Mexican bird expert jailed
As if the recent turmoil spreading from the teachers' strike in Oaxaca wasn't enough, a prominent birdwatcher in that state has been arrested and put in jail on weapons possession charges. Amnesty International has taken up the cause of Ramiro Aragon Perez, who has been training local Indian people to serve as guides for birdwatchers visiting from other countries, as a means to tap into "ecotourism" revenues for the benefit of poor people. The World Wildlife Fund helped fund this project. He also belongs to Oaxaca People's Popular Assembly, the apparent reason for which he was subjected to persecution by forces loyal to embattled Gov. Ulises Ruiz. See El Universal. During our trip to Mexico in 2003, Jacqueline and I were amazed to find such a wide variety of tropical and semi-tropical birds in Oaxaca, and in Mexico City as well. If the spirit of neighborly collaboration signified by NAFTA has any meaning at all, the cause of wildlife conservation in Oaxaca is something that all nature lovers in the United States should be concerned about.